Monodramas

I was so glad this weekend to be at Lincoln Center, seeing a crowded lobby and excited, young crowd for New York City Opera’s Monodramas triple bill of Zorn, Schoenberg, and Feldman. It could – but in this case, won’t – go without saying that an establishment venue taking a risk on programming like this is a good sign for New York’s cultural life. For me, the high point of the night was Morton Feldman’s Neither, which despite clocking in at over an hour of very static music, kept me continuously rapt. I wrote recently about my experience of Feldman’s For Samuel Beckett, which I found frustrating at times. With this opera, for which Beckett was librettist, I felt completely engrossed. Maybe it has to do with the fact that Neither has what could be called melodies, or at least melodic fragments, whereas For Samuel Beckett consists almost entirely of Feldman’s luxurious harmonic clouds. Something about the obsessive and┬árepetitive┬ánature of these melodies – especially when delivered by the voice – powerfully implies a kind of desperation, a lost and hopeless striving that connects vividly with Beckett’s text about the “impenetrable self”. See Drew Baker’s blog for an insightful review of the rest of the show.

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